Will the Denver Broncos Buckle Without Peyton Manning?

Last season, the Denver Broncos defied the odds to beat Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl. In the aftermath of the victory, NFL legend and future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning announced his retirement and the Broncos looked set to hand the starting role to Brock Osweiler – especially after he performed well during his brief stint in the team last season.

However, the Broncos had to cut Osweiler in order to offer Super Bowl MVP Von Miller a colossal contract to keep him at Sports Authority Field. After Osweiler’s departure, Denver were forced to dip into the quarterback market in the 2016 NFL Draft and Gary Kubiak was able to acquire Paxton Lunch with the 26th overall pick – but he has found himself playing second fiddle to Trevor Siemian in the seventh round of the 2015 Draft.

Siemian performed admirably in Denver’s 21-20 victory over Carolina in this season’s curtain raiser but Kubiak’s men have plenty of room for improvement as they look to retain the Vince Lombardi Trophy. At the time of writing, the Broncos are 16/1 with 32Red Canada to retain the Super Bowl and many punters will fancy Denver to go close – especially if Siemian continues to improve and adjust to the offense.

The Denver quarterbacks have shown plenty of potential in their win against the Panthers but their chances hinge primarily on the defensive side of the ball. If the Broncos defence can cope with key losses then Osweiler and co will stand a great chance of emerging victorious at the end of the campaign. Von Miller’s lucrative contract forced the Broncos to part ways with the likes of Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan; and Denver have to adapt – just check out the season preview below – Kubiak’s stern defense means business.

Without doubt, the Broncos defense is key to their Super Bowl aspirations and fans will be hesitant to jump on the Siemian bandwagon just yet. Whilst he showed enough quality to convince a few in the opener, he still has a long way to go if he is to hold off Lynch in the long term. After all, there’s a reason why Gary Kubiak was so desperate to acquire the University of Memphis man in the opening round…

And with two competent signal callers on the roster, Denver aren’t exactly missing Manning right now – although they may be short on experience in the playoffs if the Broncos are able to hold off the Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers throughout the campaign. As of September 12th, Denver are 17/10 with 32Red Canada to win the AFC West title this season and both Siemian and Lynch may have key roles to play later in the year.

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The Broncos won’t have it all their own way but Kubiak’s men will fancy their chances of glory this season. With the utmost respect, Manning simply wasn’t up to his usual high standard last year and victory in February’s Super Bowl signalled the end of his NFL career – a decision that will help Denver in the long term. With Siemian and Lynch coming through the ranks and learning the offense, the Broncos have two fantastic prospects and Kubiak will be licking his lips at the thought of building a brand-new offensive unit.

Denver’s defense isn’t as strong as it was last year but they still have plenty of play-makers; both upfront and in the secondary. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are two of the best in the business and Brandon Marshall will also help to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Their victory over Carolina reminded us that Denver still mean business and it would be foolish to write them off. Who knows, we might be watching Jon Elway lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the second year in a row.

John Elway - Jim Nantz